There’s nothing like looking down on someone else to make you feel better about yourself

Most of the time, at least, I try not to judge myself in comparison to others, but sometimes when I get down on myself for certain personality traits, such as passive-aggressiveness, it’s helpful to find evidence that there are others who are far worse than myself.

And to that end, I need look no further than to passiveaggressivenotes.com.

I will admit that, my own impolite behaviors notwithstanding, it requires a great deal of restraint to keep myself from printing and posting notes in certain situations (especially where unflushed office toilets are concerned), so it’s not that I couldn’t relate to the pent-up frustrations being vented on some of these notes. Indeed, bad spelling and inscrutable grammar aside, a lot of these notes seem almost exactly like something I might have produced myself.

But then there are the others. The frothing, raving blather of those teetering on the edge of insanity. Not that the circumstances they were placed in by disliked roommates, coworkers, or proximate strangers didn’t warrant it most of the time. In the end, however, I’d rather be the culprit than the chump whose incoherent rants get photographed and posted on a blog for the purpose of global mockery.

Whatever. I just spent the last hour and a half poring over it all. Enjoy.

On a related, but less spiteful note (but only slightly so), you may also enjoy these similar sites (lazily copied from the passiveaggressivenotes.com blogroll). I am beyond pleased to see that there are others out there who share my same pet peeves, namely: apostrophe abuse, lowercase L, and unnecessary quotation marks.

Boy, this kind of puts my Catalog of Annoying Grammatical and Spelling Errors to shame.

Have we learned nothing?

Before I was even in elementary school, I learned from Mr. Rogers to “take my time and do it right.” In short, it’s better to take a bit longer to do something, and do it well, than to rush through just to get it done.

And yet, based on this Washington Post article, MnDOT seems not to have learned a similar lesson.

Teams of designers and builders are racing to meet a dawn Wednesday deadline for showing they are qualified to bid on the bridge replacement project, which the state has put on a fast track.

I can understand putting the project on the “fast track,” but to me that simply means giving it priority over other projects, not adding undue haste to the project itself.

State transportation officials hope to award contracts next month, with the goal of having a new bridge standing at the end of 2008….

Erecting such a bridge would ordinarily take about three years, even if the design and building phases were overlapped to save time, said Bill Cox, owner of Corman Construction Inc. in Annapolis Junction, Md., a road and bridge construction firm.

So not only are we moving so fast as to have a “dawn” deadline, less than a week after the collapse, to get initial proposals in, but we plan to have the bridge up and operational in less than half the time an accelerated schedule would normally require. (Oh, and correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t overlapping the design and build phases necessarily mean that they’d start building it before it was completely designed?)

I hate to say it, but I’m already reluctant to drive on that new bridge.

OK, I’m a geek, but this was totally cool! (In a geeky way…)

Ever since I read Word Freak, an exposé on the world of competitive Scrabble by Wall Street Journal sports reporter Stefan Fatsis [wow, such a convoluted sentence, simply to avoid having to write “Fatsis’s”], I’ve been obsessed with improving my Scrabble game. (Excuse me, my SCRABBLE® Brand Crossword Game… er… game.)

For a couple of nights, SLP was into it (why does that sound dirty?), but she just couldn’t match my endurance (again… why?). So I had to resort to playing against the computer. I’ve been playing tournament style to boost my (unofficial) rating, playing mostly against the 1220-rated “Veteran” (whom I beat about 2/3 of the time) and the 1400-rated “Smart” (to whom I lose about 2/3 of the time).

Tonight my rating finally topped the 1300 mark (against Smart, no less), and I celebrated by playing one more game against Veteran. And therein came my greatest moment.

Veteran had set up the triple word column on the right edge with LAVE, and my draw that turn included the Q, the Z, and both blanks! I stared at the board for a moment before realizing I had a most unusual play (if it was actually a word). And so it was that I laid down QUIZZER through the E in LAVE, with the Q on the triple word and the (real) Z on the double letter, using the blanks for the U and the other Z, giving me 99 points. If only I’d had an S on my rack, I could have hit the other triple word as well, for a triple-triple-bingo, worth 356 points! (That’s among the highest possible scores for a single word, even though, as a fairly pedestrian word, it doesn’t carry as much cachet among Scrabblers as words like QUIXOTIC or MEZQUITE.)

I still ended up winning the game with several other high-scoring moves, including a ballsy (if anything Scrabble-related is ever even remotely “ballsy”) multi-turn set-up that allowed me to play EXITS on a triple word for 49 points, after having already milked the X for all it was worth. I almost screwed it up though. I had played LURID early on, to which I later added the double XI. Already I was planning EXITS, but I was missing the T. So to try to build it up even more, I played RIDE while waiting for the T, but… d’oh! I really should have just played RID, because I needed that E! Naturally the T landed on my rack in the next turn, but we were getting close to the end of the game, and I didn’t have an E! Without counting, I assumed they were all on the board already, but I got one in my second-to-last draw, and EXITS appeared! On the final turn, I was left with AINRT on my rack, which fit nicely in the same area to turn ER into TRAINER for the victory! 447 may be my highest single game score ever.

Yeah, I’m a geek. But I represent! (Saying that makes me even more of a geek, doesn’t it?)

Wow, looking back at that screenshot, I’m even more impressed with myself (if that’s possible). Tournament play uses a clock, just like chess, with each player limited to 25 minutes total (going over the time limit carries a steep penalty at the end of the game). When I first started playing computer Scrabble a couple months back, I’d usually use up almost all of my 25 minutes, but in this game my clock read 17:34 at the end, meaning I had only used 7 minutes and 26 seconds for the entire game! Of course, as usual, Veteran only used 15 seconds. One time I think the computer only used four seconds for the whole game. I think the computer needs a handicap on the tournament clock: the player gets 25 minutes and the computer gets 25 seconds. Yeah, that sounds fair.

I’ll stop now. If I go on, I may just have to beat myself up.

Whitney Music Box

I’m always interested in discovering new ways of manipulating sound, not to mention examples of the ways music and math converge, and this is one of the coolest I’ve seen in a long time: Whitney Music Box.

The spinning dots move at speeds governed by various predefined ratios, resulting in cool swirling patterns that converge in different ways over time. Each dot is also assigned to a tone, and when the dot crosses the horizontal line, its tone is produced.

There’s even a variation where you can control the motion with a hand crank. Very cool!

(This is what we call “good Flash“.)

Where are all of the pictures?

I know many of you have been waiting patiently (?) for the return of the “Offspring” photo galleries. Unfortunately I’ve been really busy with work (and life)… and I’ve been spending most of my “geek” time doing music in GarageBand or playing the Wii (i.e. losing to Fletcher at bowling), rather than getting the new photo gallery stuff set up on the site.

Fortunately for you, we’ve taken almost no new pictures since Christmas, because a) the camera’s batteries are crapping out and b) the camera has been misplaced for several weeks. So, you haven’t missed anything, really.

One of the key points in getting this set up was finding a mechanism in WordPress to restrict access: in short, I want to know who’s looking at pictures of my kids. Now I’ve found a plug-in to manage access to individual blog posts, so that’s one more hurdle jumped.

Future posts in this category will require you to be logged in. Fortunately, it’s easy to register and once you’ve done it, you should never have to do it again. (At least, not until I decide to change my site entirely again. But I don’t anticipate doing that in the near future, if only because I’m not going to have the time to mess with it!)